Advice to travellers after quake


Britons holidaying in south east Asia were told today to follow local advice after a tsunami watch was issued for countries across the Indian Ocean.

The warning, affecting thousands of UK travellers enjoying Easter breaks abroad, came after an 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the western coast of Northern Sumatra in Indonesia.

In advice to travellers today, the Foreign Office said: "A tsunami watch has been issued across the Indian Ocean region.

"You should monitor media reports and follow advice of the local authorities. British nationals in the region are advised to call home to let family know they are safe."

A spokeswoman for UK travel organisation Abta said: "We are monitoring the situation and we would urge people to follow the Foreign Office advice."

It was an earthquake off Sumatra that led to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 which claimed 230,000 lives.

Today's tsunami watch took in a huge area including South Africa and Australia as well as Thailand, the Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma.

Abta added: "Since the 2004 tsunami, public awareness of tsunamis is considerably higher.

"In countries which were affected by the previous tsunami, warning systems such as sirens are now in place, giving people sufficient time to head to higher ground, with routes to higher ground also generally clearly signposted."

England cricket star Tim Bresnan, who was today named among the top five world players of the year, is in the Maldives for his wedding and tweeted about the possible tsunami.

He wrote: "Just sat around reception in the Maldives with a life jacket on waiting for the tsunami to hit.

"Not ideal the day before my wedding."